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If only! - by Sami Zaptia
22/09/2011 12:10:00
If only! - by Sami Zaptia

In view of Libya’s revolution I wonder if members of the old regime, wherever they are, are now looking back regretfully and thinking: ‘if only’…

If only … they had implemented their announcements of modernisation and reform policies earlier, faster and deeper over the last five years. Many of us have wondered whether they were seriously interested in improving the economy and standards of living – in line with their many policy announcements.

For no matter how often a policy is publicly announced, if there is no realistic complementary action on the ground, those pronouncements look hollow and insincere. Over the years people lose hope and trust in the government if they see that reality and pronouncements do not match.

As a result the government loses legitimacy and its link with its people - leading to dire consequences. Peoples’ loyalties will transfer even to external powers if the link and legitimacy are lost.

If only more of Libya’s US$ 160 billion worth of net foreign assets were more equitably and frequently distributed among the Libyan public.

After all, the old regime kept telling us it was OUR money.

If only enough new job opportunities were created for the estimated 30% unemployed made up mostly of youth.

If only enough new housing was built faster to house many of those youth forced to delay marriage due to the shortage of affordable housing. An apartment in Tripoli today can cost up to a quarter of a million Libyan Dinars.

If only wages were increased more and earlier to help decrease endemic corruption and allow people a better standard of living so that they can feel they are enjoying part of Libya’s huge oil income.

If only shopping malls, entertainment and recreation centres were built in time to satisfy the appetite of the new generation brought up on mobile and i-phones, internet, satellite TV and regular travel to countries such as Tunisia, Malta, Dubai and beyond.

If only the old regime understood in time that the world had moved on by 2011 and that many of the things we used to consider as luxuries are now considered basics or even human rights - again such as travel, recreational entertainment, mobile phones and internet access.

If only the plan to retrain the teaching staff at schools and the introduction of the new curricula was introduced earlier and implemented faster.

If only universities were built faster to provide ‘quality’ and not ‘quantity’ education.

If only there was a linkage between the outputs of the education system and the needs of business and the workplace.

If only a quality health service was established to save thousands of Libyans annually having to visit Tunisian, Jordanian and European hospitals for expensive privately funded healthcare.

If only the railway, metro and tram systems that have been under debate and construction for decades were started and finished earlier.

If only a bus system was created in the meanwhile to solve Tripoli’s traffic jams and provide an efficient and affordable public transport system and reduce Libyans’ reliance on the car.

If only Tripoli’s Third Ring Road had been finished earlier to help reduce Tripoli’s traffic congestion.

If only Tripoli’s new airport was finished on time with less stoppages and less cash flow problems so as to help kick start Libya’s employment and new income-creating tourism policy.

If only the Economic Development Board (EDB) was allowed to diversify and modernise the economy by decentralising it, reducing subsidies, encouraging enterprise, and creating alternative incomes for the post-oil Libya.

If only the EDB’s nationwide training, SME and Incubator programmes were allowed to seriously do what they promised to do to help university leavers, start ups as well as the ex-state employees establish new entrepreneurial careers.

If only the banking system was reformed faster and the Islamic loans promised to young entrepreneurs to set up their own businesses were delivered in adequate time and volume to make the policy a success.

If only local media was allowed more room to be critical of the undisputed poor management and administration of the nation and allowed to publicize corruption, nepotism and cronyism.

If only the Libyan ruling class were more sensitive and responsive to the demands of the general public.

If only there was more accountability, meritocracy and equality of opportunity in the rigid political process and system.

If only there was a strong judiciary system, the rule of law and equality before the law for all.

If only more of a civic society was allowed to be established with strong independent institutions and systems.

If only the much talked about but never seeing the light of day draft constitution was finalized and released for public debate to give Libyans at least hope of legally securing their rights against the overwhelming power of the state.

If only, If only, If only.

Hindsight is such a great advantage. But when looking back, it looks like the regime despite making many promises and policy pronouncements failed when it came to policy delivery. The irony is that the old regime had made a start on all of the policies and areas I had mentioned above.

But they took much much too long to deliver. It was very much a case of too little too late for the impatient young Libyan generation.

In conclusion, having gone through decades of centralised socialism, the Lockerbie crises and UN sanctions, the Bulgarian nurses’ crises, the Swiss crises etc etc, the increasingly aware young Libyan public was not prepared to wait anymore.

When the IMF reports that Libya has US$ 160 billion worth of net foreign assets, what excuse is there for failing to deliver reform and modernization policies in time?

Those who have been regular readers of The Tripoli Post know that we have regularly raised these issues directly and subtly over the last four years. Unfortunately, not enough decision-makers read between the lines and took enough notice of our warnings. I hope that the new regime take better note of the critical media in the future!

Sami Zaptia – samizaptia@knowlibya.net
If only we had people afraid of God in government because you can only trust in Allah.
Tripolipost and NTC refuse to allow Gaddaffi a radio station or tv station or allow him to retire they are both hypcrites and are not democratic. NTC had 42 years to come up with plans for alternative to Gaddaffi Govt and they still dont have one. They cant even control the rebel terrorists or pick up garbage or get the fuel,lights,water,electricity or food on. Why can't people be heard criticizing NTC or tripoli post?NTC and rebels are illegal and not wanted by Libyans. After Nato leaves they both will be slaughtered.

...all you care about is Gaddafi? What about the other 6 million people in the country? Thanks to traitors and scum like you that Libyans had to resort to removing Gaddafi out of his seat by force. Him and his family of psychos!

Get over it loser...find another cause, another paymaster! Don't forget to visit democratic, safe and RICHHHH Libya in a couple years time.
That is the looong 'to do' list!
Excellent article . ( I'm writing from New Zealand ). The Tripoli Post should be congratulated for pushing for reform when it was dangerous to do so.
Comments such as the second one here - from a Gaddaffi loyalist - are not helpful.

Everyone needs to recognise that the Libyan internal structures will be bad because of the oppressive and corrupt regime, and once that regime falls there is so much more work to do.
But Libyans should work with the NTC , not against it, as that is the only hope now to rebuild. Elections will follow eventually, but at the moment are irrelevant.

Also, the Gaddaffi regime has spread much lies and so many Libyans will now only believe what they said. In war, many lies are normal - to get the result - and Gaddaffi has no hesitation there. He is still saying he's winning the War and this is all an illegal attack by Nato.

That's a lie . This is a genuine democratic uprising, which has taken longer - with more destruction- because Nato only came in late and in a limited way. But was necessary, because Gaddaffi had all the guns etc and was hiring African mercenaries against his own people. The rebels were mainly quite disorganised and Very underequipped.

For Gaddaffi, it was a case of hold onto Libya or it can all be wrecked. If he goes then it goes to. He has caused huge civilian damage and his people damaged the Tripoli water supply when they left. Note also that the rebels have been very lenient with Gaddaffi fighters they capture - mostly they are freed - while Gaddaffi's men have been torturing and killing.

Around the world there has been much admiration and optimism for the uprising and there has been far more honest coverage due to free Media and TV , while Libyans have had so much propaganda from state TV. So while you know some stuff from being there, you will have been lied to a lot, with restricted information. The foreign journalists and their cameras have tried to be accurate overall with what was happening.

I've been watching, hoping it succeeds , because Libyans deserve this. But I'm suspicious of the Western involvement too, like many Libyans. Much of the help is due to foreign governments wanting a secure oil supply in future. That is predictable. Sometimes they talk about freedom, justice and peace, when the money and oil is really more important to them.

But Libya absolutely needs this oil revenue for a while, at least, and has to be able to interact well with the western countries. There's no choice there, and the only choice now is to work with the NTC to make the new Libya happen, to justify what you have already suffered and honour those who died.

Now there is an obligation to them to make Libya better. And it is an exciting prospect in a way, because you can make a clean start. In the West, we can't . We are trapped by our systems and above all by the manipulation of the large banks, and the huge corporates who work with them....and the dumb or corrupt politicians who stop real progress happening.

These banks have largely been running the Western world for ages and are currently causing events such as the 2008 Global Financial Crash and the latest issues, where America is being crushed and bled dry ( 15 -20% unemployment )- to destroy the US dollar, and countries like Greece, Portugal and Ireland are being crushed under their Euro common currency ( and should get out fast ).

They are trying to implement a world dictatorship slave state, based on control of money and trade, where Libyans would soon be much worse off than under Gaddaffi.

To resist this, you must keep your economy independent and not allow the foreign banks to operate internally. Otherwise, they will eventually take over- like a cancer - and destroy you. That's what has happened to the West....people are trapped in debt that cannot be repaid. And much of that is due to the banks being able to charge Compounding Interest. That is terribly dangerous and should be illegal. The main religions used to forbid it, and Islam still does. This is a big reason behind the West - or the Money Men behind it - sometimes being anti-Islam.

Most westerners are not against Islam as such - just terrorism, or where customs ( like burqua ) clash with local traditions in the West. Where people are practising a mild form of Islam, heeding the best words of Mohammed, adapting to western custom, there is little problem. In fact, the Islamic avoidance of alcohol is a positive, since drunken violence is a big problem in the west.

Most western Christianity takes a mild form in that it doesn't ask you to harm non-believers.
But the Usury of the western banks clashes with Islam and a good reason why not to let them wreck your economy....long term. And various banking systems are possible that avoid Interest . I'm working on a new one myself, in touch with Ellen Brown - webofdebt.com ......Ellen is the best known Public Bank buff around. From California.
Remember that America had a revolution too , largely against the British bankers, but then it got taken over by the European bankers. So Libyans should beware.

Anyway, Libya can certainly rise and be better than before, with a better and more fair economy. The NTC has men in it with a history of opposing Gaddaffi and they will need the good will of the people to make good new things happen. Ali Tarhouni was back in Tripoli early, and his honesty and knowledge of western economics should help a lot. There are men there who will be able to deal with the west and also rebuild Libya, but they must have good will from Libyans to do it.
A new state of mind may be called for ? , but it will be worth it.

PS - about the propaganda in comment 2 . When the revolution started, Gaddaffi had nearly all the arms. Plus African mercenaries. Now, the armaments have been boosted from the West and much have been captured and the country's main centres are under NTC authority. Which is backed militarily by Britain, France, Norway, Denmark.....if needed. But people need to work with the NTC. There is no risk now of Gaddafi forces overwhelming the rebels and NTC , so citizens should be aware of that.


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